For decades now, the “DUI crackdown” along with the incremental erosion of our constitutional liberties has been justified by the thousands of deaths caused by drunk drivers. Even the U.S. Supreme Court, in Michigan v. Sitz, admitted that DUI sobriety checkpoints appear to violate our Fourth Amendment rights against unwarranted stops and searches. The Supreme Court, however, determined that the violation of our rights is “outweighed” by the “carnage” caused by alcohol on our roadways.
Decades ago, traffic statistics included a category for “alcohol-caused” deaths. To justify sobriety checkpoints, lower blood alcohol levels, and automatic license suspensions, the category was changed from “alcohol-caused” to “alcohol-related.” Thus, a sober driver who hits and kills a drunk pedestrian is in an “alcohol-related” incident. Similarly, a sober driver killed by another sober driver with an intoxicated passenger becomes an “alcohol-related” death. And amazingly, if a police officer believes a driver is intoxicated but chemical tests show he or she is not, the incident is still categorized as “alcohol-related.”
What are the true numbers? In 1999, the General Accounting Office (GAO) reviewed statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and issued a report saying that NHTSA statistics “raised methodological concerns.” The Los Angeles Times also decided to investigate NHTSA statistics. In 2002, NHTSA claimed that 18,000 deaths on the nation’s roadways were attributable to drunk driving. The Times found that only about 5,000 of the fatalities involved a drunk driver causing the death of a sober driver, passenger, or pedestrian. MADD, law enforcement, and federal and state governments continue to use false statistics to rationalize unfair and unconstitutional DUI laws.
If you are charged with DUI anywhere in southern California, get legal help right away from an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney. A good DUI defense lawyer will assess the charges against you, interview eyewitnesses, and compile evidence for your defense. At trial, he or she will cross-examine the arresting officers to find any discrepancies in the testimony, any inconsistency in the breath or blood tests, and any other factors which may strengthen your defense. If you face DUI charges in southern California, now or in the future, you should know that penalties can be stiff and consequences can be long-term if you’re convicted, so consult with an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney right away.